Community Cooks: This brisket recipe uses Atlanta’s hometown soft drink

Anne Stanley is a retired nurse who worked in the cardiovascular ICU at Emory University Hospital for more than 40 years.

“I love to cook, and would always have more than I needed, so I’d bring it in to work,” Stanley said in a recent phone call. “A lot of my co-workers did not cook, so they especially enjoyed my cooking.”

Stanley lives in Peachtree Hills, where she still cooks almost every day, and tends a small vegetable garden.

“My yard is very tiny, but somehow I have squeezed in 30 tomato plants, and eggplant, and asparagus, and some jalapeño peppers,” she said.

The pandemic has not changed her cooking habits. “I had to be a little more organized, because usually I run to the store every other day,” she said. “I’m very impulsive. I see a recipe, and I think, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to make that today.’ So, I had to do a little bit more planning, but it didn’t really change anything.”

Stanley also is an avid recipe collector. “Ever since I was a teenager, I have been very interested in good food and cooking,” she said. “Whenever I go out to eat at a restaurant, and there’s something I really like, I always talk the chef into sharing the recipe with me.”

One of her favorites is a brisket recipe that calls for Coca-Cola as the featured ingredient. It appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2010, as part of a story about “The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook.”

“I think it’s a great recipe,” Stanley said. “I have made that a lot. I had one co-worker who just begged me to make it. So, it is a hit. It feeds a lot of people. And, it’s easy to do. You cook it for four hours and it’s done. The only thing I would say is, you do need to watch and make sure you have enough liquid in the pan while it’s cooking, or it can burn.”

For a complete meal, Stanley likes to serve Atlanta Brisket with green beans and mashed potatoes.

“I think it would be very delicious, even without the Coke,” she said. “But, it is really delicious with it.”

RECIPE

Atlanta Brisket 

In “The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook,” Eli Evans confirms that the “secret” to this brisket is in an old advertising jingle: “Coke is it.” While many recipes call for putting Coca-Cola in the cooking liquid, the Evans family’s cooks apparently marinated the beef in the syrupy soft drink. We added a little to the cooking pan as well. Although you can skip the Coke, and the ketchup, if you like, this method yields a rich, deeply burnished gravy. The four-hour cook time results in meat that shreds upon slicing. Shorten the roasting time to about 2 to 2½ hours if you want sliced meat.

Adapted from “The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook,” edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge (University of Georgia Press, $24.95).

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your cooking? Have less frequent shopping trips taught you a lesson in resourcefulness? Did you prepare a recipe that reminded you of a loved one? Send your story and recipe to comcooks@gmail.com.

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